A common complaint people have about running is that it’s boring. As a runner, I disagree with this statement. When I’m running, more than any other physical activity, my mind is full of thoughts and feelings. Sometimes they’re positive – “wow, I feel really strong and fast right now!” Sometimes they’re negative – “I think I may puke. My legs feel like crap. This sucks.” Sometimes they have nothing to do with running – “What should I have for dinner tonight?” And sometimes, my personal favorite, they provide deep insight into who I am as a person and a runner. Running magnifies and clarifies your strengths and weaknesses. It’s an outlet for me to see what I’m capable of.
I thought about this yesterday while I was at the gym. My calves were really tight from my 10-miler, so I decided to give myself a break and hit the elliptical. I quickly zoned out reading a magazine and became quite bored. My mind was dull. I had no insight into my body or myself. It was a just an activity that I needed to do for 35 minute to burn some calories.
It was lame, so after a 15 minute warm-up, I hit the treadmill. I punched in 20 minutes and decided that I wanted to see how far I could run in 20 minutes. I started at an 8:30 min/mile and then tinkered with the speed so that it ranged anywhere from 8:30 – 7:30/min mile. I did have to take a 30 second break and had to run a 10/min mile pace for about a minute halfway through so I could catch my breath a little. I ran 2.4 miles in 20 minutes. In those 20 minutes, my mind was alive and on fire. At times, I felt strong and capable. At other times, I felt like I was going to throw up. When I briefly cranked up to 7 min/mile, I had visions of myself tripping over my feet (I’m not used to running that fast!). Those 20 minutes were mentally and physically hard and did not fly by. But I was not zoned out, and I was anything but bored.